OSA is supporting diversification of the optics workforce with exceptional thinkers who will fuel the next phase of technology breakthroughs.
Workforce • The Optical Society
Have you seen something cool in the realm of high-tech innovation? It may be fueled by optics, the technology that spawned the laser and now is crucial to a variety of technologies, including quantum computers, self-driving cars, and smart cities.
The Optical Society (OSA) is on the forefront of the work it does, but not of the workforce that does it. “When I think about the optics workforce, I see a burgeoning field of exceptional thinkers with incredible drive and passion,” says Chad Stark, executive director of the OSA Foundation. “However, the current playing field in the sciences is not even.”
One of OSA’s strategic priorities is to improve the diversity of the optics workforce and to provide “what is needed to enable the next generation [of professionals] to flourish regardless of geography, culture, or resources,” Stark says.
As part of that effort, OSA has focused on ensuring diversity in speakers at events and conferences as well as in awards. “Our metric is not set on diversity of winners but on increasing nominations,” Stark says. “We have found, for example, that women are recognized at the same ratio as men if they are in the consideration pool.”
If OSA succeeds in its goal of diversifying its ranks, the world will see the results in tomorrow’s optics breakthroughs. “Optical technology is pervasive and ubiquitous—from our global communication infrastructure to healthcare to environmental sensing and monitoring to defense and security,” Stark says. “For us to see that future, the optics workforce needs every great mind.”